The Cuban dictatorship sold blood and its derivatives; human tissues and organs worth 1,323 million US dollars, between 1995 and 2019, according to an investigation by the NGO Archivo Cuba (AC) on businesses in Havana in the health field, which includes forced extractions from prisoners and shots and continues open.
According to the investigation, as a result of the voluntary donations of Cubans moved by the explosion of the Saratoga hotel, which caused 46 deaths and 99 injuries; but they are unaware of the government’s millionaire business with the sale of blood and its derivatives, tissues, glands and human organs, explained its executive director María Werlau.
A part of the tissues, glands and organs sold could be derived from animals or obtained artificially in laboratories, according to the experience of the experts consulted; but there are no figures that define the origin of one or another product exported by the Cuban dictatorship, Werlau specified; that she is finalizing the figures for 2020.
Archivo Cuba’s research is based on primary sources, international databases on trade and organ donation/transplantation; academic papers and articles from the Cuban and international scientific community; reports from international organizations and the national health systems of various countries; statements by personalities from the Cuban dictatorship, public health authorities and representatives of entities involved in different aspects of the business; websites of medical and scientific institutions and entities.
In blood and derivatives, Cuba exported 808 million dollars; while in human tissues, glands and organs, the figure reached 515 million, detailed AC in its report, almost in parallel with a statement from the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) announcing that Cuba is one of the few countries in the Americas that have 100% voluntary blood donations.
Until the economic crisis due to the collapse of the Soviet Union, many Cubans donated their blood for free to relatives and friends who had to undergo a surgical operation, but the Special Period in Times of Peace generated an irregular internal market, which is now quoted in dollars. North Americans or euros, mainly; or their equivalents in Cuban pesos.
After the collapse due to an explosion of still unknown origin in the Saratoga hotel; and whose signs lead to a succession of negligence by the military-business conglomerate Gaesa, the dictator Miguel Díaz-Canel insisted on the importance of solidarity blood donations, even mobilizing independent activists and journalists.
The National Blood Program has 46 banks, including 15 provincial, 31 municipal and 168 blood collection centers, and 100 voluntary donor detachments, according to its head, Dr. Ester Porto González, an official from the Ministry of Public Health (MINSAP). ), which did not include mobile units, installed in internally modified buses to draw blood.
In different periods; between 1995 and 2019; and taking into account the opacity of the operations, the countries that bought the most human blood and derivatives from Cuba are Brazil (134.3 million US dollars), Venezuela (104), Argentina (87.9), Colombia (82.8 ), Iran (65.3), Russia (54.7), Ecuador (25.7), and Belarus (23.9).
$515 Million Recombinant Human Erythropoietin Fraud
In the field of exports of human tissues, glands and organs, Cuba does not publish statistics; although AC’s research found that the almost exclusive market was Brazil with 515 million US dollars, in the period 2005-2017.
At the end of 2017, the Brazilian Minister of Health, Ricardo Barros, denounced before a Federal Congress hearing that a 2004 agreement to buy recombinant human erythropoietin from Cuba, used to treat anemia derived from chronic kidney failure, “had It cost Brazil 515 million dollars in 12 years and it hadn’t made sense.
The agreement, between the Cuban company Cimab S.A. and the Brazilian Bio-Manguinhos, belonging to the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz), was supposed to allow local production in Brazil, through technology transfer from Havana, which did not materialize and the company only dedicated itself to packaging Cuban Erythropoietin ; despite the fact that it could have been bought at a much lower price in Brazil, where it was already produced.
The “Cuban Pharmacy Magazine” explains that recombinant Erythroprojectin, categorized for immunological uses and hematopoietic growth factors; in one-milliliter bulbs, it contains 2.5 milligrams of human albumin, 5.8 mg of sodium citrate; 5.8 mg sodium chloride; 0.06 mg of citric acid; 0.22 mg of polysorbate 20 and water for injection.
“These export businesses were not even known by veteran scholars of Cuba and were essentially absent from the public references of Cuban officials, academics and other authorities,” despite the fact that Cuba has been selling blood and other human products since the 1960s, Werlau explained. .
In 1996, with the business of selling human blood and derivatives in progress for more than three decades, Fidel Castro commented at the event for the 36th anniversary of the CDR, held in Sancti Spíritus:
“(Juan) Contino made reference to that work. He explained to us the issue of blood donations: more than half a million donations, a historical record. As he rightly recognized, this is due to the work of many, but we know that the Fundamental weight in the matter of blood donations is held by the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution.
“A figure is said and when he spoke I pondered what 508,000 donations mean, how much they are worth. It can be calculated, there are some countries where a donation is worth 200 dollars and the question of obtaining blood for the objectives has always been a big problem. By how much do we multiply the 508,000 donations, by 100, by 200, if we are going to put a material value abroad?
“With the quality of our blood, because of the measures that are taken to ensure its purity and sanitary status to ensure that it is not contaminated, if we multiplied it by 200 it would be equal to 100 million dollars – it is about the value, not that there is a market—if we multiply it by 100 it would be 50 million, if we multiply it by 50 it would be 25 million; but what a blood donation means cannot be measured in millions or in money”.
Forced extractions of prisoners and shot
In addition to the voluntary donations of blood and human organs, the Cuban regime carried out forced extractions from prisoners and shots, revealed the investigation by Archivo Cuba, which is still underway, Werlau pointed out.
The “Cuban Foreign Trade Yearbook” reported the export of blood at the beginning of the 1960s to countries such as Canada; “By motivating citizens to voluntarily donate blood, the Castro regime had already surpassed its former communist brethren in East Germany, who in the 1980s sold blood drawn under duress from political prisoners.”
“The dictatorship found a captive and abundant blood bank in the hundreds of Cuban political prisoners subjected to firing squads in the 1960s, as their blood was forcibly drained and – macabrely – listed hemorrhage as the cause of death. in most of the death certificates of those executed,” Werlau stressed.
The technique of falsifying death certificates in Cuba is as old as the business of selling blood and human organs and, despite the fact that executions have been reduced since 1967; The official cause of death of Division General Arnaldo Ochoa Sánchez, shot in 1989, was “acute anemia.”
Up to the time of writing this note, Archivo Cuba has documented 31 cases of forced blood extraction; before executions by firing squad; Taking advantage of the fact that the victims had already said goodbye to their fellow prisoners and their families did not later receive the bodies for burial, the extraction of blood from Cubans who had been shot was kept mostly undercover, the report states.
The documented cases of forced blood extraction occurred between 1960 and 1964 in prisons in different provinces, data that leads AC to conclude that “the practice was widespread and that it could have been imposed on hundreds of men before their execution.” In 1965, Cuba reported 18,000 political prisoners and; from 1960 to 1967, the NGO documented 1,856 executions.
The Municipal Court of Matanzas published on its Facebook page that, to celebrate the 61st anniversary of the Committees for the Defense of the Revolution (CDR,) a “blood donation was carried out with the participation of those sanctioned, under the control of the executing judge “; always according to the version of Archivo Cuba.
In 1967, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued a report denouncing that, in Havana’s La Cabaña prison, blood was drawn from prisoners who were to be executed “with illicit and massive intentions and for scandalous commercial purposes.” The report described the execution of 166 Cubans, in May 1966, after an average of seven vials of blood were extracted from each prisoner, after which they were transferred on a stretcher to the place where they were shot.
Soviet and Cuban hematologists extracted the blood and carried out experiments with it in a special health facility that had been installed in La Cabaña; The Soviets also operated a blood bank at the headquarters of the former Medical Cooperative, located at Calle 13 corner 8 (Vedado). In addition, blood donations were required from relatives of political prisoners in order to visit them, and Cuban blood banks accepted donations under duress; which was then sold to then North Vietnam, at US$50 a knob.